“The Con Is On” takes off like a shot: a stylish caper with enjoyably wry, martini-soaked dialogue and a terrific comedic turn by Uma Thurman as a glamorous British scam artist.
Then there’s the film’s second half — which sinks like a stone. That’s too bad since director James Haslam, who co-wrote with Alex Michaelides, had all the makings here of the kind of sexy, breezy crime farce in short supply these days.
Thurman, working a posh accent and acres of attitude, plays slinky swindler Harriet, who, along with equally shady, boozehound hubby Peter (Tim Roth), flies to Los Angeles to steal a priceless jewel from Peter’s actress ex-wife, Jackie (Alice Eve). The goal: to repay Harriet’s huge gambling debt to a ruthless mobster (Maggie Q).
But what begins as a seemingly simple heist loses steam and focus amid a pileup of Hollywood-style nuts and narcissists who divert Harriet and an increasingly blotto Peter. These over-the-top folks include Jackie, her volatile filmmaker fiancé (Crispin Glover), his unstable assistant (Parker Posey) and rapacious leading lady (Sofia Vergara), and a double-dealing gay priest (Stephen Fry).
A funny bit in which Harriet poses as a dog whisperer is one of many moments in which the game Thurman makes you wish there were far more pros to this “Con.”
‘The Con Is On’
Rating: R, for language throughout, drug and alcohol use, some sexual content and violence
Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; also on VOD